City of Escondido


Frequently Asked Questions About Graffiti

What is Graffiti?

Graffiti is a crime which is characterized by the defacing of public or private property using a wide range of markings which include painting, etching, carving and markers. Graffiti should be removed immediately. When graffiti is immediately removed a message is sent out stating “We care, we will not tolerate graffiti in our neighborhood”. Prompt graffiti removal is a deterrent to future graffiti in that the “tagger” realizes the graffiti is not visible for any length of time and eventually will most likely stop tagging in the area.

Who is doing it and why?

Research has indicated the typical graffiti offender is young and male. Most offenders are between the ages of 15 and 23, many offenders were found to be students. 

Some of the motivating factors for graffiti have been identified as peer pressure, boredom, resentment, failure, frustration, despair, recognition, and gang affiliations.

Are there different types of graffiti?

Yes, various types of graffiti have been identified. The category and characteristics of the most common types are listed below: 

Common Tagger – usually seen in high volume and have a common style name or theme. The tagger hopes to gain recognition by having the tag in as many locations as possible and the more difficult the location is to access, the greater the notoriety.

 Gang Graffiti – characterized by gang names or symbols applied in a highly stylized manner in highly visible locations. This type of tagging is used to mark turf controlled by the gang, taunt or insult other gangs, boast of achievements or honor slain gang members.

 Artistic Tagger – this type of graffiti is characterized by large vivid mural type tags commonly called “masterpieces”. These tags are generally very colorful and in conspicuous locations.

What is being done in Escondido to combat graffiti?

The Public Works Operations Division and the Escondido Police Department are working together to operate the City of Escondido’s Anti-Graffiti Program. The Anti-Graffiti Program is a multi-faceted plan to eradicate graffiti. The Public Works Graffiti Eradication Team photographs and geo-locates on the photograph every graffiti tag they respond to prior to eradication. The file containing the photographs of the tag is given to the Escondido Police Department for analysis using Graffiti-Tracker software. The images of the graffiti are used in the investigation and prosecution of violators.

 The City of Escondido also distributes graffiti cleanup kits free of charge to residents who have been the victims of graffiti. Anti-graffiti education literature has been mass mailed to City of Escondido residents and efforts are under way to distribute this literature to the school districts.

Who is responsible for removing the graffiti?

The property owner or any person leasing, occupying or having permission to maintain the property is responsible for removing graffiti. The City of Escondido does, as a courtesy, assist property owners with graffiti removal at no charge to the property owners when certain conditions are met. The conditions are as follows: 

  1. The graffiti must be visible from the public right of way.
  2. The graffiti is not applied higher than the first story of a building, approximately 10 feet above the ground level.
  3. The City staff can reach the graffiti without the use of ladders or man lifts.
  4. The property owner has signed the waiver to allow City staff to access their property and remove the graffiti.
Why should I remove the graffiti? I did not put the graffiti there.

Permitting or allowing graffiti to remain on your property is a public nuisance. Graffiti not only makes our residential and our business communities unattractive, it adversely affects our property values, business sales and the community’s image. Ignoring graffiti gives the mistaken impression that it is acceptable and only invites more graffiti. It will take the awareness, support, and participation of all to combat the problem of graffiti within our City. 

Although you did not place the graffiti and you are the victim of a crime, it is your responsibility to remove the graffiti. Graffiti removal kits are available at the Escondido City Hall and the Public Works Administration Offices at 475 N. Spruce Street. Graffiti is no different than a vandalized fence or a broken window caused by a vandal, in that, the property owner would be responsible for the repairs. The city does assist property owners with removal when the graffiti is within the conditions stated, otherwise, the property owner or any person leasing, occupying or having permission to maintain the property is responsible for removing graffiti.

How can I assist in the cleanup of the City?

Whenever you see graffiti on property within the City limits which is visible from the public right of way, call the Escondido Graffiti Hotline at 760-839-4OFF (4633) or use the online form at

 When reporting graffiti always provide the address or location of the graffiti; a brief description of the graffiti; and your name, telephone number and e-mail address if you have an e-mail account. This information will allow City staff to contact you should additional information be needed.

You can also volunteer to participate in the “WE CLEAN ESCONDIDO”   Adopt-a-Block litter removal program by contacting the Recycling Hotline at 760-839-6216 and listening to the recorded message on “WE CLEAN ESCONDIDO” 

What happens after graffiti is reported?

An internal service request is created within the Public Works Operation Department dispatching a Graffiti Eradication Team (GET) member to the site of the reported graffiti. A search of the property owner waiver files is completed to determine if the City has been granted permission to enter the property to remove the graffiti. If there is no waiver on file, an attempt is made to contact the property owner to get a waiver signed. If a waiver is on file, the GET staff responds to the site and eradicates the graffiti. Prior to eradication of the graffiti, the graffiti is photographed and the photographs are submitted to the Escondido Police Department where they are cataloged and used to investigate and prosecute the perpetrator.

 GET members use a variety of techniques to eradicate graffiti based on the type of graffiti and the surface it has been placed on. GET Members are equipped with high pressure power washers, airless paint sprayers, paint brushes, rollers, assorted cleaning chemicals and grinding equipment for removal of graffiti from concrete. Every effort is made to match existing paint colors when possible. GET members carry approximately 40 different paint colors in their vehicles. Unfortunately, with weathering a perfect paint match is not always possible. If you have paint that matches the area where graffiti was placed, please provide this information when reporting to the Hotline and the GET member will contact you to get the paint when they are removing the graffiti.

How can I keep Escondido graffiti free?

Remove graffiti from your property immediately.

Report graffiti when you see it to the Graffiti Hotline 760-839-4OFF (4633)

Look to eliminate access to graffiti prone areas on your property using landscape barriers and lighting.

If you see graffiti vandalism in progress, call 9-1-1 and report it immediately to the Escondido Police Department.

Is graffiti against the law?

YES, graffiti vandalism is a misdemeanor and violators can be severely punished. Vandals may receive a sentence of up to six months in prison, be required to perform community service, pay fines, make restitution to the property owner and/or attend educational classes. In addition, juvenile offenders may lose their driver’s license or have their driving privileges deferred. Parents of juvenile graffiti vandals may be ordered to pay a fine and restitution, and attend classes or participate in community service activities with their juvenile.